Shopping Rue Saint Honore, Paris – Image courtesy of paris-saint-honore.com
Tips to shopping in Paris
Worshipped as the Holy Grail of high fashion by designers and fashionistas the world over, Paris is crowded with fabulous shopping opportunities. Here's a few tips to help you make the most out of your shopping trip:
Paris Sales – January and August are the best months for soldes (sales), tout doit disparaitre (everything must go) and coin des affaires (bargain areas). Typically, sales last for six weeks and discounts get better as the sale period nears the end. Head to Boulevard Haussmann, where the big department stores such as Galeries Lafayette or Le Bon Marché are found for some great affaires d'achats (bargains).
Shopping hours – Opening hours generally extend from 10am to 7pm Monday to Saturday, with late night shopping on Thursday continuing until 9pm or 10pm. Small shops often take a two-hour lunch break. With the exception of flea markets and those catering to tourists, most shops are closed on Sundays.
Taxes – In France, value-added tax (TVA) amounts to 19.6 per cent, but most of that is refundable if you spend EUR182 or more in any store that participates in the VAT refund program. Most stores participate, however some charge a processing fee of between 1 and 6 per cent.
Getting a tax refund – For an on-the-spot cash refund in euros, ask the shop assistant for the special ‘global refund form’ at the time of purchase. On leaving France, have it stamped by Customs, then present it to the Global Refund counter at one of more than 700 airport and border crossings in France.
Otherwise, present the purchased goods and the usual form to the Customs desk at the airport. Once the documents are processed elsewhere (but not immediately), the refund is credited to your credit card.
Duty free airport shopping – Duty-free shops are numerous in Paris and are always less expensive than the airport shops. Expect discounts from 20 per cent to 30 per cent. If you qualify for a VAT refund, you can save up to 45 per cent off the Paris retail price. The big advantage of duty free shops in Paris is that you don't have to pay the VAT, avoiding all the red tape of applying for a refund later. Both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports offer a huge range of duty free shopping, with everything from crystal glass and lingerie to chocolates and jewellery.
Best buys – In Paris Haute couture and prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) fashion, top quality shoes, bags, leather goods, jewellery and quality cosmetics.
Best shopping areas
Here are the best of Paris’s shopping arrondissements.